The lawsuit is aimed against Windsor’s police force, following a ‘troubling’ pattern of behaviour towards African Americans
A violent traffic stop involving a Black military officer has prompted Virginia’s Attorney General to file a lawsuit against the police force of Windsor, a small town in the Hampton Roads area.
As reported by The Washington Post, the court-ordered monitor for the police force was filed on Thursday, just over a year on from a traffic stop incident that sparked outrage.
Attorney General Mark R Herring stated that his office discovered a pattern of discriminatory behaviour by Windsor police, which included African American drivers being stopped excessively without cause. That act, in and of itself, puts the force in violation of Virginia’s Human Rights Act, and the Virginia Public Integrity and Law Enforcement Act.
The suit was filed earlier this week after a month-long inquiry into the matter, and will now go to state court for review.
The lawsuit notes the worrying pattern of behaviour exhibited by the Windsor police force. One case that proved to be a catalyst for action was that of Army Lt Caron Nazario.
In December 2020, the Lieutenant, while wearing his military fatigues, was held at gunpoint, struck, pepper-sprayed and handcuffed.
Lt Nazario had been stopped by the police due to his newly purchased SUV lacking permanent licence plates – to which he pointed out that a temporary tag was taped to his window.
When Lt Nazario told officers that he was “honestly afraid to get out” of his SUV, one of them replied, “Yeah, you should be.”
A video of the incident soon went viral, sparking outrage online due to its incendiary nature. In what was a year marred by several tragic examples of police brutality, particularly against Black Americans, it represented yet another instance of a Black man seemingly being on the wrong end of excessive and discriminatory force by the authorities.
Lt Nazario, who is Black and Latino, filed his own federal lawsuit against the force over the incident.
One of the two officers involved in the stopping of Lt Nazario’s car has since been fired.
“While our investigation was spurred by the egregious treatment against Lt Nazario that we all saw in body-cam footage, we discovered this incident was indicative of much larger problems within the department,” Mr Herring said in a statement.
He cited “huge disparities in enforcement against African American drivers and a troubling lack of policies and procedures to prevent discriminatory or unconstitutional policing.”